Malicious prosecution can feel a lot like an intimidation tactic. What is malicious prosecution? Raised often by those who are facing legal claims, malicious prosecution is essentially a threat that is made to “scare off” a claimant from pursuing their claims. For example, if an individual or business intends to bring legal claims against a would-be defendant, the defendant’s legal team almost always responds by threatening the claimant with malicious prosecution, clamoring that if the claimant proceeds, he/she will face retribution by the defendant by way of a malicious prosecution suit.
The good news is that malicious prosecution actions are disfavored in many states, including California, and difficult to actually succeed upon. To have a viable malicious prosecution, the defendant needs to actually succeed in some fashion by obtaining a “favorable termination” of the case. This can include a favorable jury verdict, a favorable ruling on a brief that ends the case, or even a voluntary dismissal, under certain circumstances. In addition, the defendant needs to prove that the claimant brought the claim “without probable cause.” The “malice” element is often demonstrated by showing that the claimant brought the case to “vex, annoy, or injure” the defendant.
If you or your business has received threats of malicious prosecution, the appropriate next step is to retain counsel to prepare an appropriate response. The response should be assertive, firm, and raise the necessary counterpoints, for example, identifying the reasonable grounds that exist for the lawsuit, and also raising SLAPP/anti-SLAPP defenses, if applicable.
Axis Legal Counsel assists clients in defending against and bringing malicious prosecution actions. If you need assistance with a malicious prosecution threat that is being made against you or your business in California, please contact us at (213) 403-0130 for a confidential consultation. Axis’s managing attorney Rabeh M. A. Soofi is ranked one of the “Top Women Lawyers in Southern California” and is malicious prosecution lawyer with experience in malicious prosecution claims.